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Virtual Reality Helps Dementia Patients & Improved Aged Care Facilities

There are currently more than 413,000 Australians living with dementia, according to Alzheimer’s Australia. By 2050, this figure is expected to increase to almost a million, and the number of carers almost tripled, making the expected cost on the Australian healthcare industry an overwhelming $36.85 billion a year. Subsequently, the Australian Government has made dementia a national health priority area and committed dementia care as a core business across the aged care system. How can you ensure your business improves the quality of life for dementia patients with Virtual Reality (VR)?

VR Benefits for Dementia Patients

As a multifaceted chronic disorder, dementia impairs cognitive functions such as memory, language, and the executive functions necessary to plan, organize, and prioritize tasks. Subsequently, individuals with dementia, regardless of the form or stage of the disease, have difficulties processing stimuli, maintaining focus, and interacting with their physical and social environments. Often, people with dementia experience social isolation and a progressive loss of autonomy. However, VR can help to:

  • Trigger memories and positive emotions
  • Distract from boredom and reduce repetitive behaviour
  • Reduce isolation and increase socialisation
  • Provide joy and fun to those with limited mobility

Read: 3 Reasons Virtual Reality Improves Aged Care.


VR Benefits for Carers

Although a relatively new technology to the healthcare industry, VR has been tested amongst a small batch of aged care providers in Australia. Though the quantifiable benefits are speculative at best due to lack of in-depth research, new exploratory findings on VR’s use are positive across several areas.

1.     Assessment Tool

Immersive virtual environment technology gives carers the ability to see how people with dementia interact with their environment and are impacted by changes. This, in turn, can help carers to know what actual changes within the facility might aid dementia patients or create least distress, while capitalising on residual cognitive resources. Subsequently, facilities can be better designed physical spaces or social environments modified for better quality of life.


2.     Brain Training Tool

VR provides a very broad-based approach to managing complex behaviours. While people with dementia often experience rapid deterioration, the progression can possibly be slowed down by medication and brain-stimulating activities. The theory of neuroplasticity holds that the brain and nervous system can reconstruct new cellular synapses as a result of the interaction with enriched environments. VR thereby provides an alternative resource staff can try before medications, to help elderly who are not physically capable of experiencing different environments to easily access exciting and stimulating environments.


3.     Lower Overall Costs

VR is becoming a more affordable option, both due to the rising cost of medication and dropping price of VR equipment, for hospitals and healthcare professionals as a tool to help with dementia. According to a global healthcare VR market assessment and forecast for 2016-2020, the healthcare VR hardware market is expected to explode by 2020. Meanwhile, in 2015-16, the cost of the four key medications for dementia (donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine, and memantine) in Australia was $23.1 million alone. Ultimately, it the use of VR may help offset annual dementia healthcare costs.


Solis VR

Build VR, a Melbourne-based company that specialises in virtual tours, and 360-degree video and photography, recently released Solis VR. a handset for care homes designed specifically for people living with dementia. The device was designed due to the personal experience of Marc Pascal, co-founder of Build VR, with the difficulties of having a family member who needs professional care.

Solis has five categories of video scenarios that the handset offers users: Travel, adventure, animals, aquatic, and relaxation. These immersive, interactive VR experiences mark a big step forward in the quality of care for those living with dementia in Australia.

Vita Enterprise Solutions

VR represents a smarter, less costly, and less risky form of treatment. Until a cure is found, the kind of care and support patients receive from carers, family, and friends that improves their quality of life is key. While the healthcare industry can be technophobic, VR may be one of the few ways to improve quality of life for residents, and should be considered a long-term option for many facilities.

Vita Enterprise Solutions provides Solis VR as an all-inclusive, ready-to-go package including a Samsung device and headset pre-loaded with Solis. For more information on how Vita Enterprise can help integrate Solis into your business’ technology roadmap contact us on 1300 139 310 or enquire online.

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